Should you keep your crested geckos in a group?
This is a question that I hear and read about quite regularly, and it is not confined to crested geckos.
People who are new to reptile keeping frequently apply a human approach to keeping herps. Or they may think about keeping some mammals or birds that need social interaction with others of their species, when considering their reptiles’ needs.
Generally, it should be noted that there are only a few reptiles that enjoy being kept in groups, a good example would be bearded dragons. In addition, most male lizards will start to fight other males in the terrarium, which you should really avoid. Most reptiles, including crested geckos, are solitary in nature and will only seek company when it is time to mate. So that’s that then, you may think – one gecko only for me.
Even though crested geckos may be solitary in general, it is in their nature to seek a partner to reproduce. The question then arises whether it really is “healthy” for your gecko to be kept in solitary confinement. Risking that you may now think that I have gone “all human” in my approach, I am a proponent of keeping two or more crested geckos in a terrarium (only ever one male at a time though). One reason is that I think that a mission when keeping any reptile or amphibian should be to breed them, to root out the trade in captured and imported reptiles. Another is that reproduction is part of nature and your crested geckos should be given the opportunity to answer nature’s call.
Before stuffing your terrarium with geckos though, you should consider the size of your crested gecko cage, as all your inhabitants should have an opportunity to hide to get some privacy. Johnson recommends crested gecko cages measuring at least 18”x18”x24” inches in his Crested Gecko Manual for two or more geckos. If your crested gecko cage is smaller than that, you should stick to one individual as your geckos may otherwise suffer from stress, which in turn could lead to sickness and / or premature death.
If the set-up, size and climate of your crested gecko cage is good, you can expect your geckos to enjoy a very active procreational lifestyle, which will result in regular hatches of eggs. As you would expect, this will be driven by the male gecko in the group. I would therefore recommend to keep one male with two female geckos, as your male crestie may otherwise stress out the female. The size of the crested gecko cage is therefore very important, as is the availability of plenty of good hideouts for all of your geckos. You should spend some time to watch the behaviour of your geckos to see whether the male is harrassing the female. If that is the case, you may have to separate them for a while to give the female time to rest. As mentioned before, stress is very harmful to crested geckos and should be avoided.
If your crested gecko cage conforms to the recommended size and you do you have leafy plants and branches etc in your terrarium, your geckos will thrive and enjoy a harmonious life.